Jello hijacks #FML: Fun My Life!

Jello LogoYesterday, a friend of mine filled me in on a social media promotion being run by Jello (thanks, Sarah!). Before I say too much, I have to preface this post by revealing that I grew up and went to high school in Leroy, NY – birthplace of Jello. I remember taking school field trips to the Jello Museum throughout grade school, the local McDonald’s features historic images of Jello production on the walls and the Jello factory still stands in town.

While I’ll probably always look at Jello as practically pre-historic, the company is showing that it’s still relevant in the Internet Era and becoming very active on social media. Currently, Jello is attempting to hijack the commonly used acronym FML. Most recognize this as “f*ck my life,” but Jello is turning a frown upside down, using the phrase to express “Fun My Life” instead.

My initial reaction to hearing about this was one of extreme skepticism. FML is an incredibly recognized phrase used both online and offline. Not only did I think that re-defining the acronym would be near impossible, I was also concerned because of its vulgar nature. Why would Jello want to associate itself with that? In short, I expected this to completely backfire in a similar fashion to McDonald’s infamous faux pas, #McDStories. 

My skepticism began turning around once I learned that Jello was very actively responding to FML tweets. The truth of the matter is that when people are frustrated and say “f*ck my life,” they really are in need of a pick-me-up of some kind – and that’s exactly what Jello is aiming to provide.

But I still wasn’t convinced that this would be a good promotion for Jello. I didn’t really see where the connection to their product was. Sure, they’re trying to connect Jello with happiness and fun times, but would anyone else make that association?

To my surprise, the answer is yes. People who have tweets replied to by Jello have no choice but to make the connection because of the illustration images that are being sent along with the reply. Check these out:

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It took me a minute to realize it at first, but each illustration includes a pack of Jello! They’re even subtly branded with the Jello logo on the right side of the packaging.

After taking a look at some of these, I think Jello turned me around. I think this campaign totally rocks. The images are:

  • easily share-able to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest;
  • social and engaging;
  • able to legitimately associate Jello with fun;
  • able to give a much better, more positive meaning to #FML.

What do you think – Can Jello pull this off?

Creating Viral Campaigns With Twibbon

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On behalf of the American Red Cross, I’ve been using Twibbon for the first time to rally support for a series of blood drives that will (hopefully) set new records and cumulatively collect over 1003 units of blood – one more than Theo, from Buffalo, NY, needed to save his life in March of 2011.

If you haven’t used (or heard of) Twibbon before, it’s a social platform that allows individuals to show their support for specific organizations, causes and points of view.

Twibbon

For example, check out this Twibbon for Special Needs, or this one for the Boston Red Sox.

There are a number of features that Twibbon offers that we in the world of digital marketing need to know about:

  • The actual “Twibbon” is a mark that is laid on top of supporter’s profile pictures on Facebook and/or Twitter.
  • Give users multiple Facebook Cover Photos to choose from for their own profiles.
  • Direct visitors to your campaign page to any website you want – use this link space to boost attendance, donations or sales.
  • Create copy for Tweets and Facebook posts for individuals to publish on their profiles when they support your campaign.

I think my favorite part of using Twibbon was the design support we received by upgrading to a Pro account. For a one-time fee of $99, the Twibbon team provided our Campaign Header, Twibbon image, and Facebook Cover Photos – and they did so surprisingly quickly.

This tool is under-utilized and there’s a lot of room for organizations to leverage it to create viral campaigns that result in brand visibility and consumer action. Think about some of these possible uses of Twibbon:

  • Colleges could invite incoming freshman to use Twibbon during orientation to be able to quickly recognize each other as part of the same class.
  • Professional organizations, like the PRSA or AMA could invite members to use their Twibbon to display their loyalty to the group and encourage others to join.
  • An organization with a strong brand, like Starbucks, could use Twibbon to let their brand ambassadors show off their love for Starbucks coffee!

How do you think Twibbon could help your organization?

Facebook Graph Search to Harness Social Data

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook announced the social media giant’s newest feature: Graph Search. If the News Feed and Timeline are the first two pillars of Facebook usage, Zuckerberg believes that this is the third.

Three Pillars

So what does it do?

Essentially, Graph Search allows Facebook users to sift through the information shared with them from other users. In other words, I could search for restaurants that my friends have been to in the New York City area. Or, for example, I could search for photos that I Liked on Facebook before 2003.

Google is to web results as Graph Search is to social results.

So why does it matter?

I’ll be the first to say that this introduction definitely matters, and Facebook absolutely needed it. We are all used to Facebook implementing changes and new designs, and we are all used to complaining about it for weeks afterward (until we all get used to it and then all of a sudden can’t imagine life without the Timeline). But this is vastly different than those occasions.

Graph Search is finally going to harvest, organize, and utilize the massive amount of information that is available on Facebook. That information, friends, is powerful stuff.

I think, broadly, Graph Search will do two things:

1. Provide an added benefit to users.

Pretty regularly, I see a friend of mine post something on Facebook basically asking their friends for a recommendation. Today, it was for a pediatrician in the Greece, NY area. But that’s just a simple example. People ask for advice from friends all the time. Now, with Graph Search, this will be easier and more productive.

Facebook will be able to aid individuals in decision-making.

2. Make it significantly more important for brands to connect with users on Facebook.

If Facebook is going to be used to help people make decisions about what restaurants to dine at, which store to make shop at, and which bands to listen to, it instantly becomes hugely more important for brands to connect with fans on the platform to take advantage of the search results that it can lead to.

Facebook, and social media in general, are sometimes ignored by businesses because it’s difficult to see results, and it’s difficult to sell anything. Graph Search will greatly improve ROI, because the third-party endorsements that are made on Facebook will be more accessible and widely used. If businesses choose to ignore Facebook, after the introduction and implementation of Graph Search, they will surely be missing out on valuable endorsements.

Graph Search

Do you think Graph Search will benefit Facebook’s long-term financial health?

Firestone Understands Social Marketing

I captured this screen-shot while browsing Facebook recently.

Firestone

It’s a great example of social-marketing.

Hard-marketing doesn’t work in social media. That’s why the Firestone ad doesn’t read, “Firestone tires are better than other tires when driving at night.” People get annoyed with hard-marketing when it clutters their valued social spaces, and it doesn’t result in sales.

Instead, the company takes a softer approach, and positions itself as a thought-leader in the automobile industry.

It provides a helpful tip for its audience. Granted, it’s something that most drivers are already aware of, but they are still giving advice to people on how to drive more safely. And it’s also important to note that the driving tip has absolutely nothing to do with tires, the product that Firestone sells the most.

No product is mentioned in the ad. To me, that means that Firestone understands social advertising. They added value in the form of a driving tip to the audience, and backed it up with some subtle branding: “Make your car a Firestone.”

No, I didn’t see the sponsored Facebook post and go to Firestone’s website to buy something. However, Firestone put itself in the forefront of my mind, and made me think positively of the company. When I do need new tires, I’m more likely to buy Firestone.

Do you think that Firestone Tires has the right strategy?

Social Media Age-Cap?

In case you missed it, here is the article written by Cathryn Sloane explaining her belief that people younger than 25 are the best equipped to handle social media efforts for businesses.

There has been more than enough backlash and anger directed at this girl in the last week, so I’m going to do my best to avoid simply repeating that. I’m also going to avoid picking her argument apart line, by line, by line – which is pretty tempting.

However, I do want to take an official stance on the topic of age in social media, both as a 20 year old college student AND as someone that plans on working in the field for a long time… even past the age of 25.

I think I have boiled my thoughts down to three main issues with Cathryn’s point of view. First is that social media, just like anything else, will never be an isolated tactic for a business. In other words, successful Marketing requires a bunch of different tactics to work together, like media relations, trade shows, direct mail campaigns and advertising.

Therefore, social media managers need to have knowledge of how a business truly operates, and how social media can fit into that overall structure.

Second – at her age, Cathryn can not possibly be aware of or familiar with all forms of Marketing. B2B Marketing is a completely different ball game. Additionally, every industry is different.

This summer, I began working in social media at Carestream Health, a global provider of medical imaging devices and IT solutions. It was new for me in many ways – my first B2B organization, my first global corporation, and my first jump into healthcare. If there is one thing that the summer has taught me, it is that I am in a completely different universe at Carestream than I had ever been in before.

When you’re dealing with products that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, things change a little bit. The purchasing process is completely different. Usually, customers need approval from boards of directors before buying anything, and price plays much more of a role than emotion does in that process. Not to mention, in healthcare, lives are at stake. People generally put more thought into the things that Carestream sells than what type of candy bar to buy in the aisle at Wegmans.

So, yes, maybe Cathryn and I and people in our age bracket grew up adapting to social media platforms as they progressed, but I certainly didn’t grow up thinking about things like dose reduction, mobile imaging, or vendor neutral archiving (just to name a few things that are pretty crucial in radiology). I couldn’t possibly operate the social media efforts for this company alone without a broader understanding of the field.

Third, it’s all about perspective. Cathryn seems to think that she was around when the revolution began, and will be around for it’s entirety. The fact of the matter, though, is that she was not, and will not be. In reality, we may have been around when Facebook opened it’s doors to the public, sure. But does anyone really think that the social revolution started with that one, single event?

If Cathryn really wanted to be around for the whole process, she would have had to witness the first personal computer, or been one of the first users of the internet. My point is, social networking didn’t just fall out of the sky. It may have facilitated and progressed the social world, sure – but there were pieces in place before Facebook, and there will be others after Facebook.

This isn’t a new concept, all technology is like this. For example, there was a time when record players were up and coming technology, and recording TV shows onto VHS tapes was ground-breaking. Obviously, those have been outdated. Isn’t it a little ignorant to think that my generation is somehow better than technology moving past us?

I am completely ready for the day that my grandson calls me an old-geezer when I don’t understand the latest gadget that he’s playing with. That’s a part of life, regardless of what era you grew up during.

Here’s the bottom line: some people get it, and others don’t. Earlier this week, I vented via Twitter about my frustration with people that don’t understand hashtags. Specifically, there’s a person that I follow on Twitter, who happens to be an older man, that frequently uses #?OfTheDay in his Tweets.

It’s shocking to me that he has yet to realize that using punctuation in a hashtag doesn’t work. In the last few months, he hasn’t noticed that none of his hashtags are clickable? Clearly, this individual just doesn’t understand.

That being said, I’ve learned a ton already this summer from a social media superstar at Carestream, who happens to be over 25.

So, no, I don’t think there needs to be an Age-Cap on social media!

 

Starbucks and Crown Royal face America’s issues head-on

Today at work, I was lucky enough to notice two eye-catching stories on Twitter. Both involve a national brand using some outstide-the-box marketing strategies.

And, both campaigns make me love the brands even more.

Starbucks July 4 Indivisible Coffee

Starbucks is giving away free coffee on July 4 to unite the nation.

Crown Royal - Safe Rides Home

Crown Royal sponsors a program called Safe Rides Home

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Buffalo Bills use a great Facebook Cover Photo… at least for now.

Since the introduction of Facebook’s Timeline, one of the more eye-catching changes is the addition of the Cover Photo. After all, it’s a lot of space, and it’s at the top of a given page. In other words, prime real estate!

If you’re anything like me, you have wondered why marketers haven’t used that space more to their advantage. I mean, sure, I’ve seen some great graphics, representative images, and things of the nature.

But I’ve never seen a page use the Cover Photo in more of a content-laden way. No special deals or offers, no contests for fans, and no real calls to action.

Today, I stumbled upon the reason I haven’t seen enough of this:

These are some of the regulations that Facebook places on Cover Photos.

And so, you can imagine my amusement when I came across the Facebook page of my favorite NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, and saw this:

Buffalo Bills' Facebook Cover Photo

I see regular updates from the Buffalo Bills on Facebook, and they’re pretty good social marketers, from what I can tell. Therefore, I’m not sure whether or not this is a mistake and oversight on their part, or if they are just challenging Facebook’s policing efforts.

Regardless, I’m very interested to see how long that Cover Photo lasts under the watch of Zuckerberg & Co.!

Have you seen any other Cover Photos that don’t follow official guidelines?

Facebook’s Promoted Posts gets mixed reactions

Anyone that manages a Facebook page for a brand will very shortly see a significant difference, if they haven’t already. Promoted Posts are a way for businesses to pay a fee to put their updates in front of more of their fans. However, there’s already some debate growing on whether this is a way for Facebook to help marketer’s efforts, or just to profit more from it.

Watch this video to learn more about how to promote posts.

It sounds pretty decent, right? More exposure? Well, if you take a look at the comments on this Mashable article, you’ll start to see some negativity surrounding the update.

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From Cars to Cupcakes: Etiquette and Advice

This afternoon I was fortunate enough to hear Heather Saffer, the “head cupcake” from Dollop Gourmet Cupcake Creations and Eric Miltsch, director of product strategy for DrivingSales and co-creator of CarZar speak about their success in using social media in their very different businesses.

(Big thanks to both Eric and Heather for the great event and inspiration!)

What sticks out to me most from this event is that, yes, social media is a way to connect to consumers. And, yes, social media helps a business’ search engine optimization efforts.

But, more importantly, social media is a way to tell a story to a mass of people that wouldn’t otherwise hear it.

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Social Media Playbook: M&M’s

** This is the second part of a series. Click here to read the first part!                                “Social media Playbook: Jim Beam.”

It’s not a secret that businesses and brands are using social media sites as a new way to market their products and services to customers. Some, however, clearly do it better than others. My goal in my Social Media Playbook series is to identify some of the best (and some of the worst) users of the social environment and explain what makes their presence so progressive and opportunistic (or tragic and disgusting).

I recently stumbled upon a few of M&M’s social spaces, and I knew right away that I would have to write about the brand. Twitter, YouTube and even Pandora are all utilized by the popular candy, but I want to start with the Facebook page – the hub of the social scene.

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